1 Mr. Albert Cock in the Dublin Review.
2 The ending of the " Orient Ode " seems, in the frank exultation of its creed, to be unveiled and native pronouncement, as loud in its faith as the last line of Patmore's " Faint yet Pursuing," where he ends by "hearing the winds their Maker magnify."
He came, even to the point of silence in certain moods, to feel the futility of all writings save such as were explicitly a confession of faith; and also of faithfulness to the institutional side of religion-the Church and the organised means of grace. " The sanity of his mysticism," says one commentator, " is the great value to the present generation. A high individual experiencing of purgation, illumination, and union, a quiet constancy in the corporate life, and discipleship as well as leadership; what combination more needed than this for our ' un-courageous day' ? "
The poet is a priest who has no menial and earthly service. He has no parish to reconcile with paradise, no spire that must reach heaven from suburban foundations. The priest puts his very hand to the task of uniting the rational and communal factors of religion with the mystical. The altar-rail is the sudden and meagre boundary line between two worlds; he holds in his hand a Birmingham monstrance, and the monstrance holds the Host. He has no time to shake the dust of the street from his shoes before he treads the sanctuary. His symbolism is put to the wear and tear of daily use. As a middle-man in the commerce of souls, as the servant of the rational sides of the Church, tried by the forlorn circumstances of never-ceasing work, he may find himself shut out from the more purely mystical regions of his communion. To correct or amplify his religious experience, there are the enclosed Orders, the contempla-tives of the Church. But to them, too, there must be complementary religious experience. They notch off the sum or score of the Church's experience, so that it may never be allowed to recede. It is left to the poet to prophesy or spy upon the increase of Wisdom and the multiplication of the Word.
He, too, in so far as he writes, is circumscribed by the uses of the world. The priest's ministry in infinitudes is bounded by his parish ; the poet's by his language.
And if religion is rightly defined as something more than communion between the man and the Almighty, as being besides the communion between man and man, and the sum of Mankind and the Almighty, then the poet is the immediate servant of God and Man.
Transfiguration is for Thompson the most familiar of mysteries. Good faith needs no Burning Bush. Or, rather, for the faithful every bush is alight. For this faithful poet the seasons were full of the promise of Resurrection. In spring he calls
Hark to the Jubilate of the bird
For them that found the dying way to life !
The rebirth of the earth after winter is the figure of the future life:
Thou wak'st, 0 Earth,
And work'st from change to change and birth to birth Creation old as hope, and new as sight.
All the springs are flash-lights of one Spring.
In the same poem he is seen at his daily business, the routine work of co-ordinating and synthesising. Light-the light of the sun-is also
Light to the sentient closeness of the breast, Light to the secret chambers of the brain !
Arguments that go from heaven downwards are the commonplaces of his poetry; that he was ready to prove the sum of his wisdom from earth upwards is told in a passage of his prose :-
" If the Trinity were not revealed, I should nevertheless be induced to suspect the existence of such a master-key by the trinities through which expounds itself the spirit of man. Such a trinity is the trinity of beauty-Poetry, Art, Music. Although its office is to create beauty I call it the trinity of beauty, because it is the property of earthly as of the heavenly beauty to create everything to its own image and likeness. Painting is the eye of Passion, Poetry is the voice of Passion, Music is the throbbing of her heart. For all beauty is passionate, though it be a passionless passion . . . Absolutely are these three the distinct manifestations of a single essence."
He had found another analogy in Pico della Mirandola, whom he thus renders :- t
"' The universe consis'ts of three worlds-the earthly, the heavenly (the sun and stars), and the super-heavenly (the governing Divine influences). The same phenomena belong to each, but each have different grades of manifestation. Thus the physical element of fire exists in the earthly sphere; the warmth of the sun in the heavenly; and a seraphic, spiritual fire in the empyrean; the first burns, the second quickens, the third loves.' Says Pico ' In addition to these three worlds (the macrocosm), there is a fourth (the microcosm) containing all embraced within them. This is Man, in whom are included a body formed of the elements, a heavenly spirit, reason, an angelic soul, and a resemblance to God.'"
" There is one reason for human confusion which is nearly always ignored. The world-the universe-is a fallen world. . . . That should be precisely the function of poetry-to see and restore the Divine idea of things, freed from the disfiguring accidents of their Fall-that is what the Ideal really is, or should be. . . . But of how many poets can this truly be said ? That gift also is among the countless gifts we waste and pervert; and surely not the least heavy we must render is the account of its stewardship."
" Nature has no Heart"
"To be the poet of the return to Nature," Thompson continues, " is somewhat; but I would be the poet of the return to God." He was the accuser of Nature. He did not say
By Grace divine,
Not otherwise, Oh Nature ! are we thine, but rather that by divine Grace Nature may be Man's, that he can go through it to his desire. Shut the gates of it and it is a cruel and obdurate abundance of clay, of earthworks.